Harry Clarke, R.H.A. (1889-1931)

St. Wilfrid and St. John Berchmans with the The Presentation of our Lady to St. Elisabeth in the Temple

Harry Clarke, R.H.A. (1889-1931)
St. Wilfrid and St. John Berchmans with the The Presentation of our Lady to St. Elisabeth in the Temple
glass window, leaded, stained, acided and painted
102 x 21 x 2 in. (259 x 53.4 x 5 cm.)
Executed in 1927
Commissioned for the Lady Chapel of the Convent of Notre Dame, Dowanhill, Glasgow, moved to Notre Dame College of Education, Bearsted in 1979, from whom purchased by the present owners.
N. Gordon Bowe, The Life and Work of Harry Clarke, Dublin, 1989, pp.204, 250, 258.

Lot Essay

'This single-light window was one of two lancets, originally planned by Sister Superior Mary of St. Wilfrid, Principal of Dowanhill Training College, to be war memorials further to the two magnificent 3-light windows she had commissioned from Harry Clarke in 1922 and 1926 for her Convent Chapel. However, Clarke's illness and her own unexpected death meant the second of these, 'The Mother of Sorrows', was not completed until January 1927, when it was adopted as her own memorial tribute. Because of Sister Wilfrid's long-term involvement in this scheme of windows, and her devoted educational work in Scotland, the donors of the two side chapel lancets, in this case the Glasgow University Catholic Women's Association, wanted to further commemorate her. She was the Association's foundress and first Honorary President. Thus the depiction of the ascetically profiled 7th century Bishop St. Wilfrid in full, majestic pontificals, attended by a server carrying a lighted torch. The black-robed Jesuit beside him is St. John Berchmans, depicted because before the window was completed, Sister Wilfrid's successor, Sister Mary Berchmans, died suddenly, so the subject was extended to include her namesake.

The majestic base predella panel, depicting the 'Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple' is unmistakeably Clarke's in its elegant, attenuated delicacy, tiny figures richly apparelled against a black background embroidered with swirling gold and silver organic forms.

The artist made the window between September and December 1927 in rented studios at the Glass House in Lettice Street, Fulham, after which it was exhibited with its companion before installation in Scotland'.
(N. Gordon Bowe, private correspondence, 1998).

We are very grateful to Dr. Nicola Gordon Bowe for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.

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